Taraji P. Henson Talks Exclusively About Her New MAC Line

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 07:  Taraji P. Henson at MAC Michigan Avenue on September 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MAC)

Taraji P. Henson Talks Exclusively About Her New MAC Line

The “Empire” star dished to BET.com about makeup, her love for mascara and living out your dreams.

Published September 15, 2016

I think it is fair to say that anything Empire’s Taraji P. Henson touches turns to gold — and her new MAC Cosmetics line is no exception. 

Debuting on September 6 in select stores and online, the “#MACTaraji” collection was so popular that a few of the products sold out in less than 24 hours. Clearly, her Cookie monsters weren’t playing around!

BET.com caught up with the award-winning actress at a MAC event in Chicago to talk about how the collaboration came about, what this partnership means to her and what beauty product she couldn’t live without. 

How did this collaboration come about?

Basically MAC called and said they wanted to do business with me and I asked my publicist, “Are you sure you have the right number?” [Laughs] This is something that a lot of artists and actresses hope for, a huge campaign. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never had a campaign this big.

It’s been overwhelming because I grew up using MAC. I bought my first brush from MAC. I was up on every pencil — Chestnut was one of my favorites — every lip glass, you name it. I used to have jobs just so I could buy MAC. People had crack, I had MAC.

You could have partnered with anyone, why MAC?

This was such the perfect marriage. I’m not greedy; I don’t need a whole bunch. This represents my fan base, the regular, everyday woman who identifies with that. And I watched so many women [spokespeople for MAC] that I looked up to like Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Pink, Eve, and as a girl with dreams, walking in the mall saying, “I want to do that one day.”

And now to see these posters [of the campaign] blown up in the store is so overwhelming. I literally gasped because I’m now that for some little girl in the mall right now. It’s just perfect.

These colors are so great and flatter a range of skin tones and shades. How important was that for you?

It was really important for me because that’s what MAC has always represented. I’ve never had an issue with MAC colors for my skin. I could always find what I needed, and so that’s another reason why this is such a perfect marriage, because I want to represent all women. I have a rainbow coalition of friends and girlfriends, so why would I make something for one girlfriend and not another?


Are you wearing the line now? It looks great!

Yes! I’m wearing the entire line now. You know, I’m not going to put my name on something that I’m not passionate about — and I’m passionate about these colors.

And they all look great on fresh skin. You know I wear a lot of makeup playing Cookie, but on my downtime I don’t want to contour and all that, so depending on what I’m doing, it’s nice to have a more natural look and with these products you can and look beautiful.

The social media response has been so amazing so far. People were talking about not paying rent to buy these products. How excited are you for this line to drop?

Children were stealing their parents’ money out of their wallets and telling me and I was like, “No!” [Laughs] But it’s been great.  My fans are just so amazing and supportive and have been riding for me when I was a special guest star on UPN shows.

What are your favorite looks when it’s just you doing your own?

It’s really simple. I don’t do anything crazy, unless I am just playing around with my makeup or have an outfit where I’m like, "Ooh, I’m going to do a blue eye.” But basically, it’s the same thing, THIS [pointing to her collection]. If I’m going out, I’ll do a concealer, a foundation and I use [Taraji Glow] to give me a contour and [Highlight the Truth] to give me a glow. And before I came up with this line, I was making this with random products I had at home like a scientist. [Laughs]

If you were stranded on an island, what’s the one product you could not live without?

It depends on the island. Where I am is very important.

OK, let’s say Fiji. You won’t need the bronzer cause you will be super-tanned.

OK. Easy. I’m gonna do lashes, because I’m an eye person. So mascara.

You're so inspirational. You’re an award-winning actress, you have roles that inspire women, you are an author and now this spokeswoman. What do you say to other young girls and women who doubt their own dreams?

If I can make it, anyone can. God didn’t give me anything more than he gave any other human. If you have a dream, no one can take that away and as long as you have that hustle and drive inside of you. I am a living testimony of that. I wasn’t born into this, this isn’t about nepotism. I literally was in the hood, food stamps, WIC check, pregnant in high school, all of that. I was a statistic, you know? But I just had a dream and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way.

This interview was edited for clarity. 

Written by Kellee Terrell

(Photos: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MAC)


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